This paper lays out many of the factors that make disinformation or misinformation campaigns of Trump successful. By all rational standards, he is unfit for office, a compulsive liar, incompetent, arrogant, ignorant, mean, petty, and narcissistic. Yet his approval rating tends to remain at 40%. Why do rational assessments of his presidency fail to have any traction? This paper looks at the conflation of knowledge and beliefs in partisan minds, how beliefs lead to self-deception and social self-deception and how they reinforce one another. It then looks at psychological factors, conscious and unconscious, that predispose partisans to pursue partisan sources of information and reject non-partisan sources. It then explains how these factors sustain the variety and motivations of Trump supporters’ commitment to Trump. The role of cognitive authorities like Fox News and right-wing social media sites are examined to show how the power of these media sources escalates and reinforces partisan views and the rejection of other cognitive authorities. These cognitive authorities also use emotional triggers to inflame Trump supporters, keeping them addicted by feeding their anger, resentment, or self-righteousness. The paper concludes by discussing the dynamics of the Trump disinformation-misinformation ecology, creating an Age of Inflamed Grievances.
Part of the book: Fake News Is Bad News